Maaaaaaaaah it´s our last day already, what the hell!? Where did all that time go? We have to go back to reality soon? NOT YET. We had wanted to do a food tour since before we even came to Vietnam so, having all day free and checking out of the room at lunchtime, today was the day! Chien booked it for us and said we would be picked up by the tourguide at about 11.30, and that we were the only people on the tour today. Cool.
We made sure our bags were all packed and ready and then went out to wander the streets we´d gotten so used to and saw the same people outside their shops everyday, it all felt so familiar and comforting. We wanted to give Hoa, our original tour agent who sorted Sapa, Ha Long Bay and Perfume Pagoda for us, and also helped with the card crisis, a little gift so purchased her a body cream in a random Body Shop shop (I thought it´d be good for her growing belly) and went to drop it off and say bye. She was so grateful and sweet and we exchanged facebook names. Well, that would just be names wouldn´t it. Oh what is the world coming to. Anyway after saying goodbye and thanks we returned to the hotel to find our guide waiting for us. A 22 year old girl just graduated with a Tourism degree, with very good English and a great sense of humour. We set off and quickly were taken to a very crowded alleyway with lots of locals seated on those low benches being cooked meat and veg and soup. We got pork and soup, rice noodles (we love rice noodles!) and the best spring rolls I´ve had all holiday. I say I´VE had because Javi was feeling a little fragile so I had them all to myself, piggy that I am. Soooo good. Next stop was at a corner stand where duck embryos were a standard snack. The tourguide (the only person whose name I cannot remember, I feel so bad!) broke open the boiled egg and it was fascinating to see it all in there. I made myself try some of the yolk which was like rubber and also veiny (ugh I´m kind of gagging at the memory) and bless her, she put a load of mint leaves on top but I just swallowed it down with a glug of water. Could not bring myself to try the embryo. Javi couldn´t even come near, he was out on the road.
After that pitstop we went to a restaurant where we feasted on green mango salad, which consisted of, of course, mango, carrot, cucumber, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar… god it was delicious, will have to try and make it at home, honey roasted chicken, fried fish, rice and more salad – we wrapped all this into rice paper wraps and dipped it in fish sauce… aaaaaah dribble. The tourguide ordered something and the waitress gave us a glass of cold green tea each and one coconut with three shot glasses – uh oh. Out came out fermented rice wine that had been in the coconut for months. It actually wasn´t very strong, only 13%, and also tasted really good and subtly sweet from the coconut, but uff we all got a bit tipsy quite quickly! Will also be trying that one at home I think.
We moved on after quite a while and went to a coffee shop that sold so many different types Javi was a little enchanted. He tried one called Weasel coffee, which has gone through the entire system of a weasel and out the other end and tastes amazing for it apparently, and promptly bought a bag. We visited a little shop/shack and tried a kind of bread empanada thing filled with pork and salad and cheese, yummy, and then went to another little bar that was hidden away in a network of alleyways behind the shops (you would NEVER know any of it was there unless you´re with a local). Here Javi tried the famous egg coffee, which is egg, condensed milk and sugar whipped together and popped on top of a shot of coffee. I don´t do coffee but I tried to top stuff and oo it was sweet goodness. I had fresh milk mixed with lemon and ice, kind of like a milk mojito, was so refreshing! And so nice to have fresh milk after all the UHT in Spain! The next thing I tried was coconut jelly, which again, was so refreshing. I know you´re reading this thinking, jesus they´re just eating and eating and eating but yes, yes we are – we´re on a FOOD TOUR. But yes, our bellies were stretched and just a little bit painful.
We finally got a taxi back to the hotel, the three of us, about 3.30pm, an hour after we were supposed to finish, and the girl said she would go and fetch us some chopsticks from her family shop, and refused to take money for them – how sweet! She gave us a bunch of 20 too! We spent the next few hours relaxing, having a wander, buying bits and bobs we wanted to take home, and I managed to catch up with some of these darn blogs. At 8pm the taxi came and we were whisked away to the airport for the looooong journey ahead of us – Hanoi to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam (er isn´t that the wrong direction?) and Amsterdam to Bilbao. Here goes!